Show of hands: how many actually lost those 10 pounds, went to the gym three times a week, or saved that $500 that you promised last New Year’s Eve? If you’re tired of making the same old/same old New Year’s resolutions, why not try something new this year? Sign up to be a volunteer with the St. Charles Park District. Volunteering can broaden your horizons, lift your spirits, and energize your daily routine. You can’t ask more of a resolution than that!
While the rigors of dieting or working out can be boring and frustrating, the rewards of volunteering can be beneficial and fulfilling. You can try new things, meet new people. You can work outdoors or in. You can sign up as an individual, or work as a group with your family or friends.
Best yet, the positive aspects of volunteering flow in both directions. The work you do makes the park district a stronger, happier, more effective community. And being a part of that larger effort can endow the volunteer with an enhanced sense of self-worth, which leads to an increased level of happiness and decreased risk of depression.
Unlike dieting, for instance, or a training program that has exact and demanding rules to follow, volunteering can be as varied and as wide-ranging as the park district itself. Like to be outdoors? You can help out with daily chores such as feeding the livestock at Primrose Farm or harvest seeds for restoration work at the district’s many natural areas. Enjoy working with children? Sign up to be an usher at a Dance Academy recital or chaperone the fun-seeking children at regular “Friday Live!” events at Pottawatomie Community Center. Want to give back to the community? The Adult Activity Center schedules regular monthly volunteer sessions with the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
“Many of our events would not be able to take place if it weren’t for our volunteers,” said Lara Piner, Volunteer Coordinator. Take the traditional Easter Egg Hunt for kids and the popular Doggie Egg Hunt for canine friends. All the eggs used for both activities are totally put together by the hard work of volunteers.
“Our nature volunteers do so much that most of us don’t realize we benefit from,” said Piner. “Those beautiful spaces take work to make them look so natural!”
And if your resolution is to try something a bit out of the ordinary, then becoming a park district frog monitor would certainly fit the bill. This fun activity is perfect for the nature-loving individual or outdoor-embracing family. And more importantly, it provides a vital function by helping officials evaluate the ecological health of a region. Frog monitors need only visit a specific wetland three times between March and June to identify frogs by the sound of their call. A training session scheduled for Saturday, February 17 from 10 AM to 12 noon at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center will provide all the frog monitoring FAQs, from how to visually identify amphibians to what listening techniques are most effective. All training materials, including recordings of frog calls, will be provided.
To become a St. Charles Park District volunteer, contact Lara Piner at 630-513-4330 or visit the park district’s web site at www.stcparks.org